Samsung’s folding Galaxy phone reveal was a giant disappointment

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Update 7:40 p.m.: Samsung provided a few more details about the display in a session following the keynote.

After more than an hour of tiring Bixby announcements, cursory Galaxy Home details, and long-winded IOT speeches during the opening keynote to its developers conference, Samsung finally showed us what we were all waiting for: its new folding phone.

Except it wasn’t really a phone at all. Samsung’s big innovation is the Infinity Flex display, and we still don’t know much about what Samsung is going to do with it. Senior vice president Justin Denison waxed poetic about an advanced composite polymer and reduced thickness that paves the way for rollable displays, foldable phones, and thinner handsets. Except he didn’t actually show us any of that.

samsung folding phone holdingSamsung

If youu blinked while Senior Vice President Justin Denison showed off Samsung’s new folding phone you would’ve missed it.

The brief glimpse we got of the phone revealed a super thick handset with giant bezels and an obvious hinge. Presumably we were looking at a dummy case that concealed the real product. At least I hope we were. Because if not, it’s going to be the phone that launched a thousand memes.

We don’t even really know how or if it works. The 10-second glimpse we got of it didn’t show off any functionality, and Denison made sure to keep the UI and design under wraps. Samsung even dimmed the lights on the stage so people couldn’t get a real clear look at it.

More questions than answers

So what do we know? Not a whole lot. Samsung boasted that the Infinity Flex display represents “a new mobile platform,” but the only thing we know for sure is that you can run three apps on it thanks to a new feature called multi-active window. Based on the demo, the three windows are interchangeable, with one large box flanked by two stackable smaller boxes.

samsung folding phone multi appsSamsung

You can run three apps when the folding screen is opened.

We also officially know that Google is on board. In a rare appearance by the Android maker at a Samsung event, Google announced that it will be officially supporting foldable displays, allowing Android apps to run seamlessly as the device folds and bringing “screen continuity.” That’s developer speak for the API that lets apps dynamically adjust to the various Android display sizes, but it’s usually not seen in action on the fly. So it will definitely require a new set of tools.

But we don’t really know how that works either. Presumably, if you’re working in an app with the phone open, it will remember you place when you close it and vice versa. But Samsung didn’t demonstrate that either. Based on the peek we got of the phone, however, it seems as though it will fold inward like a book. That means there’s a smaller display on the outside of the phone and a larger one on the inside, though Samsung says the Infinity Flex tech will allow for both inward and outward phones.



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